Blood of the Condor (1969)

Directed by: Jorge Sanjinés
Starring: Marcelino Yanahuaya
Running time: 70 minutes
Language: Quechua, Spanish, English
Genre: Drama

Seeran Review: The film tells the story of an indigenous Bolivian community receiving medical care from the Peace Corps-like American agency Cuerpo del Progreso (“Progress Corps”) which is secretly sterilising local women. The Bolivians attack the foreigners, and the attackers are rounded up and shot by the authorities. The brother of the shot protagonist desperately seeks medical care for his brother, but due to lack of money for proper care his brother dies.

கதை இவளோதான் என்று சலித்து விடாதீர்கள். மாடசாமி பிறந்தான் 80 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முந்தி, இறந்தான் நேத்து ராத்திரி என்பது போல்தான் கொடுக்க பட்டுள்ளது. ஆனால் படம் பார்க்க பார்க்க பழங்குடி மக்களின் வாழ்க்கை அழகியலும், மழையின் அமைதியும் அனைவரையும் தன்வசம் ஈர்க்க வல்லது. Mongolia இனத்தவர் நடிக்கும் படங்களை பார்த்தல் யார் இது, படம் பார்க்க பார்க்க யார் அது என்று குழப்பம் வரும், அதைபோல்தான் இந்த படத்திலும். இதனால் எனக்கு screenplay செரியாக புரியவில்லை (After showings of Yawar Mallku, Sanjinés learned that many peasants had criticism about the difficulty of his films due to the use of flashback for narration, as his film-making was greatly influenced by European art cinema, and about the lack of attention to denouncing the causes of the indigenous peoples‘ issues).

படம் இப்படி தொடங்குகிறது – – ‘We are the master race, slaves must work for us. When no longer needed, they can die, they need no medical attention. Let them use contraceptive method and abort as often as possible. Education is dangerous. An educated person is a potential enemy. Let them practise their religion only as a diversion. They should receive only enough food to keep them alive. (Instructions from Martin Bormann for the occupation of the Ukraine).

Speech to the California Institute of Technology by scientist James Donner: The developed world does not identify with the hungry of India or Brazil. We see them as different species and in fact they are, in the next 100 years we will find appropriate ways of dealing with them. They are simply animals they constitute a malignant disease. Result: the rich and strong nations will devour the poor and weak – – இதுவரை திரையில் எழுத படுகிறது. ‘We have no enemies’

In Yawar Mallku, U.S. imperialism is not depicted solely as an attempt to biologically eliminate an “inferior” race, but also as a more subtle yet all-pervasive force. The theme of cultural imperialism is amply illustrated: the rock music played in the clinic (in contrast to the indigenous flute music), the American-style clothes donated to the Indians (in contrast to the traditional, hand-woven garb), the pin-ups in the house of the Indian who has migrated to La Paz. Linguistic imperialism is exemplified in a sequence in which an upper-class Bolivian mother addresses her children in English, a language commonly used by the upper classes but generally not available for study by the Indians. Sanjinés emphasizes the ties of Bolivia’s ruling classes to U.S. imperialism in a banquet sequence where leading Bolivian doctors and their U.S. counterparts fail to supply the blood that a wounded Indian needs to survive. For Sanjinés, U.S. imperialism is literally and figuratively robbing Bolivian Indians of their blood—their right to life according to their own traditions and customs.

Yawar Mallku also paints an unforgettable portrait of a common figure in modern Bolivia—the rural Indian migrant (Sixto) who seeks his fortune in the metropolis of La Paz. Sixto attempts to change his cultural identity by speaking Spanish, wearing Western-style clothes, and denying his Indian roots. Nevertheless, he remains a member of a subordinant class and as such he is “kept in his place”—begging for blood for his brother, waiting outside the club, riding in the back of the truck. At the end of the film, Sixto has adopted Indian clothing and is returning to his rural community. The final freeze-frame of upraised rifles suggests that the Indians of the traditional rural communities must unite in the armed defense of their lives and culture.

The Bolivian government, allegedly at the insistence of U.S. officials, initially banned Yawar Mallku . After 24 hours, however, the ban was lifted due to public pressure generated by widespread protests and demonstrations. Because of its socially significant national themes and its controversial nature, Yawar Mallku became immensely popular with Bolivians. Critics continue to regard the film as a leading example of Latin American militant cinema. Though U.S. officials denied such activities, the film created a furore and, in the opinion of Sanjinés, was a major factor in the expulsion of the Peace Corps from Bolivia in 1971.
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